Away from the financial sector, earnings were out from several retailers. Target ( TGT) was in line with expectations and reaffirmed its outlook, and BJ's Wholesale Club ( BJ) exceeded estimates.

Saks ( SKS) beat by a penny, and Staples ( SPLS) was in line. American Eagle ( AEO) topped the consensus but issued downside guidance, while Dick's Sporting Goods ( DKS) surpassed analysts' targets and guided higher.

Crude oil was lower as Hurricane Dean made landfall in Mexico, sparing major oil operations in the Gulf of Mexico. The September benchmark crude contract shed $1.65 to $69.47 a barrel. Natural gas was soft again, losing 22 cents to $5.82 per million British thermal units.

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